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Russian-U.S. missile defense talks to be held in Moscow Oct. 12

RIA Novosti

26/09/2007 14:33 MOSCOW, September 26 (RIA Novosti) - The foreign and defense ministers of Russia and the United States are set to meet on October 12 in Moscow for missile defense talks, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced Wednesday.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov will meet with U.S. State Secretary Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates for discussions focusing on Washington's controversial plans to deploy missile defense system elements in Central Europe, as well as Russia's moratorium on the Soviet-era Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty.

Lavrov announced the planned meeting at the APEC summit of Pacific Rim nations earlier this month in Sydney.

Moscow vehemently opposes Washington's plans to place a missile interceptor base in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic, and considers them a threat to Russia's national security.

Earlier last week, a team of U.S. military experts visited a radar facility rented by Russia in Azerbaijan, which Moscow has offered as an alternative to the planned U.S. missile shield in Central Europe. The specialists held informal technical consultations with their Russian counterparts.

Konstantin Kosachev, who heads the International Affairs Committee of the lower house of Russia's parliament, the State Duma, said on Wednesday that the legislature would make a proposal to U.S. Congress, and the parliaments of the Czech Republic and Poland, on holding an urgent conference on the U.S. missile shield plans.

Opposition parties in Poland and the Czech Republic resist the plans, along with the majority of their countries' populations.

If lawmakers in the three countries back Russia's proposal, such a meeting could be held in the near future in Moscow, Kosachev said.

He also said parties in the State Duma would raise the issue at international forums, including at the October session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, and also at parliamentary assemblies of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), NATO member states, and in the European Parliament.

The Russian lawmaker warned that if the U.S. pushes through with its plans, "this process could lead to irreversible consequences as Russia, pursuing its national security interests, will resort to retaliatory measures of a symmetric or asymmetric nature," leading to an arms race.

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